A former trade unionist, now a cleric, says he is “saddened and disappointed” by Belfast City Council’s decision to block council representation on a trade mission to Israel.
Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Green Party and People Before Profit opposed the move at committee level on grounds of “ethical trading”.
The trip would involve delegates from the council, Invest NI and Catalyst Inc.
Committee chair, Sinn Fein’s Deirdre Hargey, said the council had no “direct connection” with Israel or Palestine and that a majority of members felt the trip was “inappropriate” in advance of the council considering a proposal to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDF) movement on 1 July.
“There have been numerous UN violations of sanctions perpetrated against the Palestinian people,” she told BBC Talkback.
But former trade union activist, Rev Chris Hudson, said he was “saddened and disappointed” at the move, which he said was not logical and would make no difference to Israel.
“I could give you a list of 10 countries where human rights violations exceed anything that’s happening between Israel and Palestine,” he said.
He pointed to the recent commemorations of the Tiananmen Square killings in China, adding that despite its poor humanitarian record, “there will be no question that Belfast will continue [trading] with China”.
Last month Mrs Hargey’s party colleague, Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane, welcomed the NI Chinese Consul General and a high profile delegation of Chinese business leaders to City Hall.
DUP councillor Guy Spence tweeted: “A dark day for Belfast as Sinn Fein, SDLP, People Before Profit & the Greens showed their true colours towards the State & People of Israel...”.